Workshop discusses education of international students

Faculty at Northern Kentucky University had a chance to promote their understanding of international students and share their good experiences when they teach these students in the classroom.

April 19 and 20, the Teaching Effective and Enhancement Committee (TEEC) organized the third faculty professional development workshop, “Voice at the table: International Students at NKU,” in cooperation with Office of International Student and Scholars (OISS) on campus.

“The purpose of this workshop is to have faculty go through some activities to help them gain new knowledge and skills that will help them become more effective teachers and learners in the classroom,” said Kenneth Rhee, director of Executive Leadership and Organizational Change.

The workshop consisted of small-group and question and answer sessions with panel members.

In the small group session, faculty had a 20-minute discussion slot to share their stories about international students in their classrooms after watching a video “A Different Place – The International Classroom” and reading articles like “Suggestion for teaching International Students More Effectively” and “Education About Asia.”

The faculty discussed the topic: “Challenges and Opportunities Working with International Students.” They also talked about diverse topics like culture differences, preparing before classes and some American students’ negative attitudes about international students.

A controversial subject was about different kinds of privileges, such as giving extra time to international students and allowing the use of English dictionaries during exams.

Most of the faculty agreed on NKU’s policy to not allow students extra time on exams; however, they could not reach an agreement whether to allow the use of dictionaries during test times.

Some of the controversy stems not only from the regulation forbidding the use of digital devices during an exam but also whether it is fair for American students, because there are times when domestic students also don’t know some words. Some faculty, however, said it is like open-book tests and it depends on a teacher’s autonomous decision.

The faculty panelists included associate professor and engineering technology coordinator Morteza Sadat-Hossieny, and anthropology professor Michael Simonton. An international student panel featured junior sports business major Mohab El Tawila and moderator Jamie Tanzman, director of the American English Language Program for April 19 and Elizabeth Leibach for April 20.

Senior in biology major Daimon Eberhard said he thinks it’s unfair that international students are held to the same standards as native speaking students.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” he said. “The workshop sounds like it could really help the students. I have been hearing all semester about problems the international students have been having with classes and feel that they fall behind a lot.”

Seulhui Lee, an international student from South Korea, said that she was hopeful about this meeting helping international students.

“I hope positive modifications would be made so that future students would enjoy their stay at NKU,” she said.